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Suffering from APITS Syndrome

By Mr Grumpy - Thu 29th Sep 2011

Now is not the time or place for me to bore you with all the details of how I came to end up in Spain (although if you really must know you can read the whole sorry episode by clicking HERE). However, it seems a good enough opportunity to say how the Spain that I arrived in back in 2004 was a much, much different place to the one I live in today.

For one, the cost of living was more favourable, with an exchange rate of something like 1.55 to the Euro, as opposed to 1.05 to the Euro (at it's worst recently) which has resulted in a massive hike in the cost of living for those who relied on bringing a small and regular income across from the UK. Even those that didn't do this ended up suffering due the vast number of retired expats who prop up the economy with their UK pensions. The fall in the value of the Pension meant less to spend in the community and as a result many businesses simply folded without the spend coming in from this demographic.

For another those looking to find work have founding it increasingly difficult as the property crash and failing economy have seen the rate of unemployment sky-rocket (and that's assuming you speak fluent Spanish and have marketable skills and experience !)

Over recent years I have lost count of the friends that have moved away, more often than not as a direct result of money issues, and many more familiar faces that just aren't around any more.

I call it APITS syndrome : Thousands of people flocking to a Mediteranean destination and investing their hard earned cash in new life abroad on the say-so of a grinning Channel 4 host that has no more experience in these matters than an Agraphobic Eskimo.

(APITS = A Place In The Sun.... come on, keep up, I haven't got all day ...)

I can say this without fear of offending anyone because I was one of those affected who blindly followed Amanda Lamb to the promised land.

Over recent months the creators of APITS syndrome at C4 have made no referrence to the tens of thousands of buyers from the early to mid 2000's who have been left high and dry by the falling Euro rate, or falling property values, and are instead banging the same drum of 'the fantastic value of Spanish property'. And of course, it is. They should just make the odd reference to the fact that different world economies are exposed to different risks than in the UK.

It would also be refreshing to see C4 introduce a programe specifically aimed at helping expats to SELL their houses (whether with a view to moving back to the UK or not). There are countless UK-based property programs that do this already, so why not an Expat one ?

I was fotunate enough to have a plan of some sort in place when I mad my move to Spain, which has been a god-seend, however I know for a fact that there are many, many that are struggling. Spain is still a fantastic place to live (and / or work if you can get it), but the advise I would give to anyone wanting to make a similar move today would be simple :

Do not entertain giving up everything you and your family have in the UK, no matter how boring it may be be, or how grim you think it is unless you have at least one of the following waiting for you :

1.) A firm and legal offer of employment.

2.) A marketable and 'in demand' profession, skill or trade that you can start work with quickly and easily.

3.) A holiday home or somewhere similar where you can stay cheaply, or without cost for the forseeable.

4.) A support network of family and friends to help you find your feet.

5.) A good standard of one or more of the Spanish languages - even better another language other than English aswell.

6.) Be independantly wealthy, or not need to work.

7.) Have a property / Job you can easily return to if things shouldn't work out

8.) Have enough savings to cover living costs for your and your family (without any income) for at least 12 months.

Without at least one of the above - and the more, the better - you had at least better be able to afford your airline tickets home. Because you will need them sooner than you think.

Comment on this Blog

I can see exactly what you are saying , holiday destinations should never be viewed as an investment as there is so much competition from other countries such as Turkey , Grease , Egypt , etc , etc and other countries opening up all of which have more favourable tax treatment and lower costs , longer sun but arguably not as a relaxed familiar culture depending on your view point
Paul Fenton - Sun, 9th Oct 2011
I donīt live on the "Costas" so I donīt see much of this. But itīs true that Spain isnīt a promised land at the moment. The country - or culture - as a whole lacks dynamism and original thinking which is not good for job creation. I think your advice is very sound.
Mo - Sat, 1st Oct 2011

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